Friday, August 30, 2019

Electric Vehicles are here!

Electric Vehicles are here!

Why do I say this? Because every day I am seeing electric vehicles EVs during my commute in the lower mainland of British Columbia.  I see EVs in Abbotsford, in Langley, and in Surrey BC.  These are not promotional vehicles wrapped in announcements that cry out "this is an eco-friendly vehicle",  but rather normal people going about their lives without creating additional pollution.

I've been telling my kids that by the time that they are old enough to buy a car,  they will have a choice between an older technology that uses a tank of poisonous carcinogenic explosive flammable fuel,  or a cleaner simpler technology that uses electricity.  It seems this is happening even more rapidly than I expected.

Electric vehicles are commercially available.

In terms of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) I see Tesla model S,X,3 & Nissan Leaf & Chevy Bolt & BMW I3 & Kia Soul & Hyundai Kona electric cars on the road,  and this is really important because it shows some healthy competition in the market place. All of these manufacturers are equipped to produce EVs and are making money selling EVs. Emotive a non profit EV car advocacy group defines Electric car as any car that can be plugged in to charge it's battery.  By that definition, Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles fit the bill, which in a way is good, because they are a necessary transitional technology to help us use less gasoline as we transition to clean Transportation.  But lets not get stuck in the transition if we can move more directly towards the goal.

Anyone can go to a Nissan or Chevy or Tesla or Hyundai or Kia dealer and purchase a BEV. It doesn't require any special knowledge, just money. Soon as supply increases, the auto makers will bring the pricing in line with their existing gas burning vehicles because customers understand that it shouldn't cost is more money to make a responsible choice.  For many people purchasing a used EV will be the economical way into EV ownership.  There are useful comparison sites online like where you can see the EVs you are interested in and compare prices and features before you spend time visiting car dealers. Here are the Battery Electric Vehicles currently available in BC (courtesy the website.)

What about Charging?

In Quebec polling data suggests that 90% of charging occurs at home and that makes sense because cars spend most of their time parked there.  We can expect a similar profile elsewhere. 90% of the time these cars don't "need" a public charger.  When it comes to public chargers, I see that within 7 minutes drive from my home in Abbotsford there are 9 different places where a I can recharge my EV, but between my house and those charging stations are literally 1000s of houses which have electricity.  My point is that we are accustomed to driving to a gas station because we wouldn't dream of storing dangerous gasoline in residential neighbourhoods. But with electric vehicles, chargers can be installed at any home. In the same way that we put our mobile phones on to charge at night, electric vehicles can be plugged in to be recharged.

For longer distance travel, EVs are starting to have the needed infrastructure.  There are 1000 public EV chargers in British Columbia today, with more arriving every week.  Below you can see just a small sample of the bottom left corner of BC's Mainland.  (Visit to find more public chargers)

Fast chargers (level 3 chargers) are appearing along major highways with the support of electric utilities and government funding.  This is making long distance travel possible even for Electric Vehicles with relatively shorter ranges.  Below you can see an image showing an overview of North American fast chargers.  You will notice they tend to follow major highways. (Graphics courtesy

In addition to home charging, we are already seeing restaurants like Tim Hortons including chargers at some of their restaurants so drivers can recharge while they stop for lunch, and energy companies like Petro Canada are installing fast chargers at some of their "gas" stations. As drivers choose businesses that let them charge up, other businesses will catch on and the number of chargers will increase. It will be easier and easier to find a place to recharge. These public "destination" chargers not only provide a convenience of "topping up" the charge when out and about, but they provide a bridge for the time when new EV owners are waiting to get their home chargers installed, a bridge for EV owners who live where their strata has not accommodated their request for a charger a safety net for EV owners who miscalculated and ran out of power before they could return home.
In the United states and Canada, the number of electric charging locations exceeds the number of compressed natural gas (CNG) charging stations.  Apart from well funded transit systems, CNG has failed to replace gasoline and diesel as a cleaner alternative. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are pulling into the lead as a clean replacement for polluting transportation..

What about range anxiety?

I haven't yet met an electric car owner who has range anxiety.  Not one.  It's a bit of a red herring.  With most charging happening at home and most commuting well under the range of electric vehicles (100km commute and 170km of range for our 2017 Nissan Leaf) there is less of an issue than the media might lead us to believe.  So buy the correct car for your needs.  If you need a vehicle to get groceries and commute, almost any BEV will do.  If you need to travel to visit clients all day long, purchase an EV with greater range.  Financial ProTip: Most drivers would be financially ahead to rent a truck or SUV when they need one, rather than driving more vehicle than they really need.

With the nation's of the world committing to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, and with a population that is disgusted by the pollution our gas cars leave in their wake, the time is now and the market is ripe for a wholesale shift to electric cars.  Electric Vehicles are here!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Netflix Streaming in Canada. Strengths and suggestions for improvement streaming is affordable at $9CAD/month for unlimited streaming.
The quality is fine, and watching it on the Wii makes it really easy.  Watching on the Apple TV offers better quality (I'd recommend Apple TV).

Room for Improvement.
*1. Allow a shopping cart / list of movies to watch so folks can make note of movies they'd like to watch another time and "set them aside".
*2. allow  a "cancel" option on the "skip ahead screen" for those cases where I click on something and can't get back to the point in the movie I was at.
3. (allow categories of my own creation) instead of the auto-magically created ones. (films with a strong female lead...) Films like the Princess Bride...
*4. allow profiles within an account so that when my kids watch Barney and Dora the Explorer, Netflix doesn't start suggesting  "Greg's picks" like "the wiggles" or "wonder pets".  I want plots with a twist, compelling character development and innovative story telling...  Having more than one person in my family essentially wastes  the intelligent recommendation engine Netflix has developed.
Thanks Netflix
5. It isn't clear if Netflix shows me the entire collection, or if I'm seeing a "favourites list".  It should be more obvious...??
*6. Put a volume control on the netflix interface for Wii.   People already have the wii-mote in their hands, don't make them search for another remote.
7. I don't want to see the same show/movie listed in every list you show me.  It creates the impression you only have 100 movies.  (apply a "don't re-use" rule in suggestions).

Netflix Advantages..
1. It really is "instant"  I only have to wait a couple seconds for any of the movies or shows to start.
2. Netflix usually remembers where i left off with a movie so I can resume.
3. the movies are pausable, so it behaves like a PVR, I can go back to catch quiet dialogue or epic finales.
4. The value is really good.  For the price of 2 movie rentals a month I can watch limitless TV shows and movies from Netflix catalogue.  Given the price of gas and the tyranny of "late fees" the value is exceptional.

How Businesses can make Carpooling work for them.

How does it work?

Fewer parking spaces to construct.
Less congestion in the parking lot and on the roads.
Employees have more transportation options.
Better air quality.

Employees are better rested when they arrive at work.  Since half of them didn't actually drive.  In the cases of HOV lanes there may even be reduced travel time. (lower stress)
Employees can discuss work with colleagues outside business hours becoming better informed, resolving misunderstandings.
Employees have better connections.
Having already socialized on the way in, carpoolers may be more likely to "hit the ground running".

Carpooling is a great opportunity.  What can you do to encourage carpooling and make it easy for your employees to use this great option?

Monday, December 30, 2013

My top 3 "reading list" for eating healthy and being healthy in 2014

OK, first things first. These aren't NEW books, but I don't think we need NEW I think we need GOOD.  This is my road tested top 3 list from the last year, so if these worked in 2013 they will work in 2014. I'm linking to Amazon since I find my experience with ordering books from them to be superior.

Simplest Advice Award is to "Drop the refined sugar."

Watch this video.  Nope it isn't cats people pull up your comfy chair and settle down for a smart hour long intellectual presentation that will cause you to re-think sugar.Sugar the Bitter Truth: Kind of makes me thankful for endocrinologists with an axe to grind.

There is even a book about the video if you insist on watching it in paperback (Mom and Dad I'm talking to you). The Real Truth About Sugar-- Dr. Robert Lustig's Video Lecture "Sugar: The Bitter Truth"

Most Audacious Title award goes to: Never Be Sick Again by Raymond Francis.  

Yeah the title was a real turn-off for me as well, but the biochemistry and advice seems to make good sense.  If you are easily turned off by writing style you may need to push through a bit of "I can't believe everybody else is wrong."  But I'll tell you, the content is well worth the read. Kudos on content, the title didn't help with credibility.  The jacket sums it up well; "There is only One Disease: Malfunctioning cells. All cell malfunction can be reduced to Two Causes: Deficiency and Toxicity.
By addressing the Two Causes through the Six Pathways (Nutrition, Toxin, Psychological, Physical, Genetic, Medical) almost all disease can be prevented or reversed."
Never Be Sick Again: Health Is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It

Longest Read award goes to: Eat Drink and be Merry 

by Walter C. Willett, M.D., with Patrick J. Skerrett
Walter. Willett, , is chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.  You can learn more here:  
Grounded in science and closely associated with the research of the Harvard Medical School, this book is a good thorough read for understanding health and nutrition.

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating

To your Health!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Centralized vs Decentralized work and the impact on Quality

"Centralized vs Decentralized"
These two terms explicitly describe "where" an activity takes place.

I think sometimes teams might implicitly choose to use these two terms as euphemisms for "performed in a standardized manner by experts" versus "performed with high variability by a crowd".
Such an implicit meaning is not necessarily fair because there are both pros and cons to each approach.

Expert processing is expensive with limited availability but more likely to be consistent.  
Crowd processing is harder to control (activity and outcome) but ultimately quite cost efficient if it works.

I know sometimes our team is  troubled by the “variability” in distributed activity. (e.g. Do project owners get their software listed in the software list, do change owners complete risk scores etc.)
And I know sometimes we are tempted to switch models and “centralize” to address these issues.  But time and money are short for our Quality Improvement team and centralization and the transformation to centralization is expensive.

While that may be an appropriate solution, it isn’t necessarily arrived at after a careful assessment of all of the alternatives.
For example, there are ways to leverage the “bandwidth” of the crowd without necessarily sacrificing quality of results.  i.e. While not controlling activity we may find appropriate means to positively affect outcome, whether through support or appropriate feedback loops, or gates etc.

It makes me think that I want to invest in my own learning about how to influence the outcomes, rather than necessarily taking over the work involved in the activity…

Here is an interesting excerpt on 3 kinds of “crowd wisdom” found in “disorganized decisions”

Types of crowd wisdom[edit]

Surowiecki breaks down the advantages he sees in disorganized decisions into three main types, which he classifies as
·         Cognition
Thinking and information Processing
Market judgment, which he argues can be much faster, more reliable, and less subject to political forces than the deliberations of experts or expert committees.
·         Coordination
Coordination of behavior includes optimizing the utilization of a popular bar and not colliding in moving traffic flows. The book is replete with examples from experimental economics, but this section relies more on naturally occurring experiments such as pedestrians optimizing the pavement flow or the extent of crowding in popular restaurants. He examines how common understanding within a culture allows remarkably accurate judgments about specific reactions of other members of the culture.
·         Cooperation
How groups of people can form networks of trust without a central system controlling their behavior or directly enforcing their compliance. This section is especially pro free market.